Friday, December 23, 2011

High speed meteor scatter communications - what a rush!

I posted back in 2009 about HSMS on VHF. Check out my QSO with Sebastian, W4AS, down in south FL. This is a beautiful meteor burn at my sunset (a little early, but I will take it!) Thanks, Sebastian!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A side-note to my JH0INP post

I worked Hiro using 5 watts to the hex beam. This is country #49 for my QRP DXCC. That's some pretty good conditions, 5 watts covering a 6500 mile path. I'll take it!

73 and good DX
Mark Lunday, WD4ELG

The magical gray line

One of the wonderful mysteries of propagation occurse at sunrise and sunset. Those times are when some amazing things happen in terms of propagation. I have written earlier about some events I have observed, and the accomplishments by others are quite remarkable. This is often referred to as grey line propagation.

Tonight at my sunset, I heard JH0INP on 17 meters CW, 599. This was at his sunrise. Hiro had an echo to his signal, which implies multi-path.

Now, was this Short Path and Long Path? Or bent path? Well, on the lower bands (which are attenuated by sunlight), a bent path through darkness would make sense. In this case, it seems unlikely that this would occur on 17 meters. You can see the short path (A, in red), the long path (B, in blue) and the bent path (perpendicular to the gray line, a common path of gray line propagation).

All stations working Hiro were in US along the gray line (MS, ID, IN, and KP4). No EU, no California.

I was using a hex beam pointed short-path. When I switched to the dipole and vertical, I could hear the LP signal much better. It was weaker on the hex beam (as expected).

For more great info on propagation paths, get ON4UN's book.

73 and good DX!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

If you can't hear it, you can't work it

One thing my first Elmer, Ed Reddington W4ZM (SK), taught me was to listen, listen, listen. That applies to human interactions, not just ham radio...but I was 13 at the time and did not understand the prophetic power of Ed's statement.

As it applies to our hobby, an obvious but often overlooked element is that the signal must be heard at a copyable level if the station is going to be worked. There are many barriers to effective reception: noise (on the air and from the barking dog in my shack), fading, directivity, and other propagation elements.

As I became more interested in 160 meters after arriving at this new QTH in 2009, I wondered how to combat the horrific static and man-made noise that I heard. I did a LOT of reading (and discussed it on this blog) on beverages and other receive-only antennas. Over the past year I have put up some shortened beverages and had some success with them; they certainly are less noisy than the transmitting antenna on 160 inverted L. I also recently acquired a small magentic loop for 80 and 160. Finally, I placed my 80-10 meter off-center-fed dipole at a lower height and am using it for receive only for the times when signals are coming in at high angles.

I went through (several times) ON4UN's book on low-band DXing. It is worth its weight in gold. Also read (several times) the sections on receiving antennas in the ARRL Antenna handbook.

The desired result is better reception and therefore more DX worked. I already have a fantastic rig in the Flex 3000. Let's see where this gets me. Stay tuned!

73 and good DX